28th Jan2020

‘Don’t Let Go’ VOD Review (Rakuten TV)

by Chris Cummings

Stars: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Alfred Molina, Mykelti Williamson, Brian Tyree Henry, Byron Mann | Written and Directed by Jacob Estes

dont-let-go-poster

Sitting down with a cup of coffee and clicking onto Rakuten TV to watch Don’t Let Go was nice and simple. A quick search for the film, a few clicks of the mouse (I watched on my MacBook, but Rakuten TV is available on Smart TV’s, Xbox One, PC’s, Chromecast and elsewhere) and I was ready to go. The interface is slick and finding what you want is easy, but I also like the lists that are available to scroll through, similar to streaming services such as Netflix, which allow you to have a look through popular films, new releases or specific genre-based titles. It’s a service I’m new to, but one I had a nice time exploring, and the HD quality is delightful too. Oh, yeah… onto the film itself.

Don’t Let Go was written and directed by Jacob Estes (Mean Creek) and is a real mishmash of genres, blending horror with science-fiction, thriller and murder mystery to create something unique.

David Oyelowo (Selma) plays Jack Radcliff, a detective who finds his life twisted into a real mess when his niece Ashley, whom he is very close with, played by Storm Reid (A Wrinkle In Time), and her parents are brutally killed. What seemingly begins as a run-of-the-mill detective thriller fast becomes something else altogether, bringing in a vibrant element of the supernatural, with Jack communicating with his niece on his phone, only to discover that she is speaking with him many days before she was actually killed. This twist to the tale introduces a time-travel aspect, and so we enter a murder mystery in which Jack Radcliff is fighting against time to figure out what happened to Ashley and her parents.

The film itself is a mixed bag, though. There are things Don’t Let Go does well, and things begin solidly enough, with plenty to keep you intrigued in the early stages, but things become messy, chaotic (and not really in a good way) and as you continue on this twisty road of time travel and mystery, you realise that nothing is truly being explained. I’m not someone who expects, or even wants to be told every detail of a film as it progresses. I like to figure things out for myself or make some guesses as I go, but this goes too much in the other direction. I enjoyed the grief induced intensity that the film offered and really hoped that the aspects of grief and sadness could have been explored deeper and in a less subtle or obscure manner. The ideas on offer here from Estes are interesting indeed, and this could have been something really strange and fun and wacky, but it falls into a sense of being “just another thriller” with a twist that simply isn’t engaging or entertaining enough to care about.

Performance-wise, I enjoyed Oyelowo but the remainder of the cast didn’t seem to have a massive amount to work with. I feel like more needed to be explained here, and not because things were especially confusing, but because it felt like a held-in-sneeze of a film. I get the idea of a filmmaker wanting the audience to make their own assumptions, but that, for me anyway, was a hindrance and caused me to care much less in the end. A shame, and a bit of a waste, Don’t Let Go is the sort of movie that floats by on premise but will likely find itself forgotten.

** 2/5

Don’t Let Go is available digitally now via Rakuten TV.

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